Jane Firehorse’s review published on Letterboxd:
"The Favourite" is a fabulous film! I loved everything about it, from the story, through the performances, to the different lenses, all the way to the amazing costumes and production design.
The 3 women at the centre of the biopic (loosely biographical, of course) all give themselves over to their roles, and their supporting players, including James Smith and Nicolas Hoult, are great in it as well. But no one surrenders herself - body and soul - like Olivia Colman, as Queen Anne, the last of the Stuart Monarchs who was troubled with not only being unable to produce an heir (in 17 pregnancies!), but also by her many illnesses, including depression, arthritis and gout, which is played up here for both manipulation and sympathy. At the time, all these diseases were linked together and called "hysteria" in women.
The vying "favourites," played by Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz, are equal parts malicious and hilarious, going to any lengths to curry favour with the Queen and in so doing gain a modicum of stability and control. The occasional anachronistic language and wild dancing offer laugh-out-loud moments in an otherwise snickering sort of film, based mainly on satire and wit, and thus perfectly suited to its time of the 18th century.
But if the humorous tone and machiavellian story aren't enough to keep you entertained, the sheer beauty of the thing means, at the very least, you should be aesthetically pleased. The opulent Queen's quarters, the gothic hallways, the fairy tale forests, the manicured shooting lawns, and the elaborate dresses are all pure eye candy. Additionally, Lanthimos (and cinematographer Robbie Ryan) use these wide angle lenses, with convex glass, that create a warped sort of perspective, matching the warped look at the period, and perhaps reflecting the skewed perspectives of the characters themselves. It's amazingly shot, the whole thing, on film.
I felt sadness for these women, even as they shock and disgust, because at the time, although they fought for power, they did so within the tiny confines of their lives. One slip up - one bad cup of tea - and you're out, swiftly replaced by another.